Motion Picture Academy President on ‘Birth of a Nation’: ‘People Need to See This Movie’

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Nate Parker as Nat Turner in "The Birth of a Nation" (Fox Searchlight)
Nate Parker as Nat Turner in “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight)

There has been harsh fallout over Nate Parker’s 1999 rape trial resurgence. But five individuals have voiced support for his film, “The Birth of a Nation.”

The writer, director and star of the Nat Turner biopic has come under fire in recent weeks. Amid news of his acquittal in the Penn State rape case, fans have remained split on seeing his film.

Also, the jury initially convicted Jean Celestin, who co-wrote “Nation.” A judge overturned the verdict once the accuser declined to testify in a retrial. After struggling with depression, she committed suicide in 2012.

Since then, the film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, began damage control. Executives scrambled to decide how to proceed with movie promotions, according to Atlanta Black Star.

And the American Film Institute cancelled Friday’s scheduled film screening and Parker’s Q&A, Deadline reported.

But Thursday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone and four of Parker’s college classmates backed the star’s film.

On the topic of Parker’s assumed guilt, Boone told TMZ she separated it from his Oct. 7 release.

“That’s one issue, that’s his personal issue. Then there’s the issue of the movie,” she said. “The important thing is for people to see it and enjoy the film, be impressed by the film. And I think that is what is very important. People need to see this movie.”

Four of Parker’s college classmates also have his support.

LaKeisha Wolf, Assata Richards, Lurie Daniel Favors and Brian Favors – alumni and former staff of Penn State – released a statement to The Root pointing out the supposed choosy reporting on the fillmmaker’s case.

“We are both dismayed and disappointed at the gross and blatant misinformation campaign regarding the events that took place during that time period,” the group – who was present during the trial – said. “We feel compelled to speak truth to this situation as the media has cherry-picked the most salacious elements while ignoring the actual record.”

The alums believed Parker and his then-roommate Celestin were victims of “racially biased investigators.” And they added that the probe began “during a time period of intense racial hostilities both on and off campus.”

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